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I feel icky and gross after watching another Netflix top ten (#1) entitled: You People.

#1 for being a travesty. Ohhhhhh!

I’m white. I’m a male. I’m around Jonah Hill and Anthony Anderson’s age. I’m middle class. (Does that matter for this?)

I love the show “black-ish.” I think it may be one of my favorite sitcoms. A thought-provoking, funny show to watch with the fam.

Are you already judging, thinking I’m making unnecessary, pseudo-racist connections to actors and shows to validate my You People viewing experience? Or that I’m falling into some on-and-on, overly privileged, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah?

No. Anderson is in “black-ish,” if you weren’t hip to that. (“Hah-haaa!” as Anderson would say … on the show … kind of a catch phrase. You know, I don’t know anyone who watches “black-ish.” No matter what race of people I ask.)

Anderson’s also, although briefly, in You People. And so is Hill. That’s why I brought them up along with our similar ages. So you know we’re from the same era.

Kenya Barris is the creator of “black-ish.” He also wrote (along with Hill) and directed You People.

May I go on now? Because there’s a lot to get off my chest.

(Is that what I’m doing? Venting?)

CREATOR, WRITER, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER – KENYA BARRIS

I once thought he was The Man. Not the man, like, the government. He was not my boy, or homey, or homeboy either.

Barris is a writer I admire. I haven’t seen every episode of “black-ish,” but I thoroughly enjoy the humor and follow-through messages. He recognizes how we fail, allows it, and offers his (and the writers’ room’s) knowledge on how to navigate through this jacked up world as precisely as possible. It’s necessary TV, I’d say. Like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “South Park.” (Not that I watch any of them purely for social commentary.)

We’re never going to perfectly mingle as a people as long as we’re uneducated and/or unaware. Some shows, like “black-ish,” are good at exploring that. Facts.

DIGRESSION

Science tells us we usually stick to our own kind which can mean (before you start combing through my words for hate) people who wear patches on their jeans may want to chill with people with patches on their jackets. Or go patch-shopping together. (Wait, are you thinking I mean swastikas or something? Or Black Panther emblems? Not the movie Black Panther. But like Black Panther bands? No, not music. Arm bands. The Black Panther Party. And not with a disco ball. Not that that’s the only music that would be playing during a party or for The Black Panther Party. I don’t want you to misunderstand and think I mean people are fine to get swastika patches along with Black Panther Party armbands. First of all, I don’t think they’d necessarily get along. Secondly, I’m not trying to incite a riot. I’m just trying to hate on a movie, and I’m feeling like I have to defend every word I say. Am I going to get fired from my job if this is read? Are we rolling up to 2024 or 1984? Am I even allowed to make that reference anymore? And I heard swastikas weren’t allowed in videogames. But that’s just because German gamers wouldn’t be allowed to play because of their laws, right? Can I say “their?”)

OTHER EXAMPLES OF GETTING ALONG WITH THOSE LIKE OURSELVES

In the future, those who have homes with robots will probably get together with people who also own robots.

Rich will usually hang with rich.

[I also wanted to put up pictures of Cheney and Nixon, but not as a political statement. It’s just funny to put all these Dicks (Riches) together.]

Coffee drinkers are in line together.

Some people ride skateboards. Some people ride bikes. But when they ride together, they’re not always going to be on the same type of cement playground.

[I know these are the same type of incline, but I couldn’t find any images of skaters and bicyclists together. Proving my point.]

BACK TO YOU PEOPLE

Granted, this is Kenya Barris’ movie-debut/test, but I’m pretty shocked that it hardly illustrates the accurate knowledge I dropped above. (Did I accurately illustrate anything yet?)

DIRECTING

The choppiness of You People reminds us of why we need storytelling methods and classes (starting in grade school). The viewer is forced to find a way in (or out) of this very modern (and probably dated by next month) telling of society and culture. We want to hold on but can’t, or don’t know how, or are told not to try. Normally, I dig taunting features (“features” having a double, no, triple meaning here).

But, instead, the overall composition, juxtaposition, and plain position reminds us of a Tyler Perry movie (which isn’t a compliment).

Perry, actually, did better with delivering messages and character development in the poignant, well-established scene of Boo! A Madea Halloween where the father contemplates how and when to kick out his daughter. (I can’t believe I’m comparing Perry’s low-brow, poorly made, fairly-humorous work to make a point, but I am. See why I’m upset?)

I’M SORRY

Real quick, I don’t want to sound harsh. I’m not hiding behind a website. I want people to focus on what matters – the importance of storytelling and not unsubstantiated or confusing opinions.

(Thank God this isn’t a movie but an article, you know what I’m saying?)

NETFLIX

Is it Netflix who’s responsible for the TV-movie-like carelessness? Because the only original Netflix movies I’ve enjoyed, if memory serves, were Me Time, Fatherhood, and The Week Of. (All mixed-race movies, I see.) They weren’t great but the messages and character interactions were acceptable and mostly heartening.

You People did nothing but stir the pot. (Like a melting pot?) And not in a productive way. There are scenes where good points are made, but loses the … ugh … I can’t even describe it.

Dayum!

DEFENDING MYSELF SOME MORE

I’m not ignorantly connecting black movies (those directed by and primarily starring black people) or appreciating mixed-race movies directed by white people (i.e., the Netflix ones I mentioned).

And black and white? I thought we were done using colors to talk about differences.

Personally, for most of my film-viewing life, I’ve noticed style similarities in Australian, French, and Danish films (to name of a few filmmaking lands of this planet). Particular geographical areas produce particular types of movies.

Movies directed by women may also have a certain appeal. (I have a genre category at home that are not dramedies but comras, because they tend to be on the brighter side [both visually and emotionally] and are often directed by women.)

Another example is Director Michael Bay who has a specific crappy style that is constantly copied outside of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s assistance.

So, is the possibility of me being racist only there when I compare American-culture movies to other American-culture movies that involve race differences? If the cast or crew includes an Asian or Parisian person, I have to be careful of my criticisms (especially if their culture is mentioned in the movie)?

With that philosophy, we’re lucky kindergarteners didn’t rise up and close all the showings of Kindergarten Cop. Because weren’t we exploiting their innocence? Were we not insensitive in that movie?

(There was a stir like this in the Italian community against The Godfather and gangster stereotyping, wasn’t there? I didn’t bother looking it up. I don’t have it in me.)

Is my reaction about sensitivity? Am I being overly sensitive? Are the characters of You People too sensitive? Because we do need to be called out for our faults. Everyone does. I believe that.

No, I didn’t feel called out by You People. I never felt offended or defensive. And I’m not an oblivious white man. (Although, how would I know?)

Brah, I’m not.

BACK TO THE DIRECTOR – KENYA BARRIS

I, of course, don’t wish for Barris to feel bad or defend himself (since I know he’s reading this). I get what he wanted to do. I get that Hill’s character had human flaws and, for example, had trouble with greetings and defending himself. And this made him look like a poser. But the character was also firmly molded as fake by Act III. There’s no coming back from that apart from a preproduction rewrite.

THE CHARACTERS, THEN

Hill’s woman (sorry, the love interest played by Lauren London) also eventually shows her true colors (uh … pun?) as a frustrated, close-minded person. So how is she supposed to come back from that? Because she should. It’s a romantic comedy.

Hill’s best friend (sorry, Ezra’s best friend … Hill’s character’s name is Ezra), the podcaster, Mo (Sam Jay), turns out to be a person with horrible advice but is still his friend, coworker, and the wise voice on culture in the end? (Say what?)

Yes, Hill’s mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus … Shelley in the movie, if you care) was a voice for systemic racism, but … that was pretty well done, actually. Barris and Dreyfus should maybe keep working together.

[NOTE: I couldn’t find a good image for Dreyfus or Jay. But that helps, since it seems like I’m dissing the lesser-known actresses in the movie.]

What about the scene (SPOILER) where Amira (that’s the love interest, Ezra’s girlfriend, Lauren London, the black woman … Did I ever say the movie’s about a mixed-race couple trying to get on with their life in this crazy world? … She’s just so underdeveloped, that I don’t see her as a person. I don’t see them as a couple. But my bad.) … where she verbally bulldozes Shelley (Ezra’s mom)? The scene shows how one voice and experience may trump another’s, which is the very problem Amira’s complaining about. But the irony is lost in anger from which we never rise above. (As you can tell. I’m a viewer. A victim of You People.] Even if Amira’s points are valid, which they are, there’s never really an apology for her outburst against Shelley (race aside).

[NOTE: This article is so frickin’ long and irritating, I decided to break it up into two parts. PART 2 will come out in a week or two.]

 

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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